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So-So

Here are some DVDs that in my opinion weren’t terrible, but I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend them.

ABOUT ALEX A so-so story about a semi-serious suicide attempt. I watched the whole thing to see if it got better, but I never really found the characters convincing. Sorry.

SOUL KITCHEN – this was funny in some places but over the top in others. Could have been better, IMHO.

THE SKELETON TWINS – This was okay, not great.

CIRCUMSTANCE (Iranian) 2011 I thought this okay, not great. The girls seemed too old for the roles they played.

HOLY MOTORS I gave this a try and I’m glad I did. Interesting idea and weird presentation but unfortunately, but it went on too long and I lost interest. Stopped watching it with about an hour yet to go.

THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN (1995) French
La cité des enfants perdus
Just plain old too weird and spooky, not in the way I enjoy. Fairy tale of sorts, but not for kids. It’s highly rated so your mileage may vary.

A SINGLE MAN A gay man’s lover dies in a car accident and he can’t cope so plans to kill himself. Starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore.

The Father of My Children (French) 2009 Okay story, but something was lacking, perhaps in the transition between the two parts of the movie? (Pre- and post-major emotional event: I won’t mention here what it is)

Hope Springs (American) 2012 Mediocre story about an older couple who go to couples therapy and magically fix their relationship in an unrealistic manner. Seemed like just a way to give Meryl Streep and TLJ a movie to do.

PingPong (German) 2006 This did win some awards, so YMMV.
A teenage boy arrives unexpectedly at his aunt and uncle’s house after his father commits suicide. All sorts of dysfunction ensue.

Lost in Beijing (Chinese) 2007
Directed by Li Yu

When Liu Pingguo finds out she is pregnant, possibly as a result of an assault by her boss, her husband An Kun tries to make the boss pay up. Instead the boss wants to adopt the baby. According to the DVD cover, this movie is listed as a black comedy. Although there are some moments of humor, the storyline in general isn’t funny, nor are some of the emotional scenes between the young couple.

The Infidel (British) 2010
A moderately funny tale about a Muslim who discovers he was adopted and is actually Jewish, all at the time his son is about to marry the stepdaughter of a devout and honored Muslim cleric. Don’t go out of your way to see this one.

Gainsbourg A Heroic Life (French) 2010
If you are familiar with French popular music from earlier years, this film would probably be more interesting to you than I found it.

Astropia (Icelandic) 2008
Directed by Gunnar B. Gudmundsson

Listed as a sci-fi comedy, this story mixes a story about a wealthy young woman who has to find a job when her boyfriend gets arrested with a crowd of people into role-playing games. I thought it was moderately entertaining.

Wall Street – Money Never Sleeps (American) 2010
Directed by Oliver Stone
Starring Shia LeBoeuf and Michael Douglas

Considering what has happened in the real world recently, this film makes Wall Street shenanigans seem mild.

The Tourist (American) 2010
Starring Angelina Jolie and Johny Depp

A moderately entertaining story of intrigue and action scenes. Angelina Jolie, as usual, expresses herself with a mysterious smile, punctuated by the occasional even more mysterious smile. For his part as the bumbling Frank, Johnny Depp adds enough to the film just by being Johnny Depp.

The Fish Fall in Love (Iranian) 2009
From the Global Film Initiative
Directed by Ali Raffi

A pleasant enough love story, but the subtitles were too small and such obviously shortened versions of the very fast spoken dialogue that it detracted from watching the film. Still, the film provides an interesting look at Iranian life away from the bustle of big cities; the story is set in a fishing village on the Caspian Sea.

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (French) 2009
Directed by Jan Kounen
Starring Mads Mikkelsen as Igor, Anna Mouglalis as Coco, and Elena Morozova as Katarina Stravinsky

Although the music is undeniably beautiful, I was not taken with the story of the love affair between two well known people. Somehow the passion didn’t seem real to me. I did like Elena Morozova’s portrayal of the long-suffering wife of Stravinsky, and Mads Mikkelsen has a lot more going for him than just a cool name, but Anna Mouglalis’s Coco just did not strike the right note with me. 🙂 (The film did win some awards, so you mileage may vary.)

The Bank Job (British) 2008
Based on a true story
Starring Jason Statham

The suspense in this story is at the so-so level. Much of the plot centers around sordid aspects of life surrounding the characters, who are the insiders and main players in the act of robbing a bank to get naughty photos taken of Princess Margaret. I wasn’t that taken with the robbers’ characters and didn’t care that much about the relationship “troubles” they were having. The film could have been shorter, and for a time it was difficult to keep all the good guys and bad guys straight. That’s probably easier for the British public, who would be more familiar with the different departments mentioned.

The Girl on the Train (French) 2009
La fille du RER
Mild suspense story that could have been condensed from 100+ minutes to about an hour or so. With very little connection between the buildup in the beginning to the actions of latter part, I did not get emotionally involved enough to care about the consequences.
Catherine Deneuve stars along with Émilie Duquenne; directed by André Téchiné
RER in the French title refers to the Parisian metro system
105 min.

The Holy Child (French) 2001
Situational Comedy-created as part of a TV series
Starring Lambert Wilson
86 min.

Changeling (American) 2008
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Starring Angelina Jolie and John Malkovich
Based on a true story about police corruption and the horrible aftermath of a serial killer.

East of Bucharest (Romanian) 2007

This film won an award at Cannes, but I found the deadpan humor too subtle for my taste. The story is based on a TV program discussing the revolution of 1989 sixteen years later. The interviewees don’t appear to have been part of the revolution as they are claiming.

Another Way (Hungarian) 2005

This film, directed by Karoly Makk, won several awards, but I found it lacking in suspense–the beginning of the film gives away the ending.

Dead Again (British) 1991

Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson star in this vaguely interesting film that jumps between two time periods, but in a disjointed enough manner that I never truly cared about the characters in either! I did keep watching to see if one or both get killed in the end. (Spoiler: They don’t.) Not a total waste of your time, but not a really good use of it.

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